Not sure about California Registration? Just purchased a nice ped but the seller does have plates or a title? Or maybe it's already got plates and is not in your name? No biggie, I had this problem too. Here is my story. Hopefully this will help...
California Registration, no paper work, plates or Bill of Sale!!!
So here is the deal, I purchased a moped a couple of months back. I bought it off a young high school kid who didn't seem to know anything about California motor vehicle laws. On top of that, all he could really tell me about the history of this ped was that he bought it from "a friend of a friend" who no longer lived in California. I know, I know, sounds shady right?
Well, it had no plates, so I figured there was a good chance that it had not been registered. So, I wrote down the VIN and the engine number and took it down to the California DMV near my home. Come to find out, it had been registered! The registered owner lived in West Covina, some 20 miles east of Los Angeles (I am San Diego) about 11 years ago and other than that, the DMV office told me I was not authorized to have any more of the registered owners information. Beyond this, they also told me that without the registered owners consent I couldn't get the vehicle registered in my name. Catch 22? Need to contact original owner but cannot have original owners information? I know, daunting!
After all of this I decided to contact a friend of mine who worked for the DMV. She told me that she honestly did not know about mopeds but with cars and motorcycles, if I were to get a bill of sale from the seller, regardless if the seller I purchased it from was the registered/original owner or not, I could get it registered. However, she told me the DMV expects for you to have prior knowledge of the seller you purchased it from and should not believe or expect that the vehicle is stolen before you are issued a title in your name. Since I did not know any of this information, I was still left weary and unsure what to do.
So I started researching more. After doing so, I found out that the State of California does not consider a moped the same as a motorcycle or an automobile. Meaning that the same stipulations with a motorcycle or car do not apply to mopeds. For example, you only have to register a moped once, there is no annual fee or registration you have to pay on a yearly basis. Along with this I found out that you DO NOT need a Bill of Sale when purchasing a moped. This is because you do not receive and official title with a moped. Further, I found out the only paperwork needed to register a moped in the state of California is the Motorized Bicycle Instructions/Application form (which is located on the wiki). This form is key.
With this form you can do all the various registrations needed for a moped in the State of California, be it a new registration or a transfer registration (you sell it or purchase it already registered). This form also facilitates specific situations such as a loss of the registered plate or identification card. So after I figured this out, I contacted the seller I purchased the bike from, had him fill out this information with me and sent this in directly to the DMV via postage with the stated fees listed on the form. I did it this way because I figured the DMV office seems to have no real knowledge when it comes to these mopeds and I wanted it to be done right.
The outcome? After waiting a few weeks (about 3 and half weeks to be specific) I received a package from the DMV with a new plate and an "Identification Card" which basically has the vehicle information as well as my name and information as the registered owner. Again, you do not receive a title so this card acts as the title or "pink slip" or transfer document if you are ever to sell the moped yourself.
So in the end, I was able to register my moped without any prior paperwork, title or bill of sale. The key to all of this was going to the wiki and filling out the Motorized Bicycle Instructions/Applications form. However, it is pretty vague when trying to figure out how all this works, so I documented my situation just incase anyone else has to do the same. Hopefully this will help?
Key Points To Remember
-The Wiki and the DMV form located there are key to registering your moped
-The form is used for everything from new registrations to prior registered bikes
-The DMV office near you may not have full knowledge of mopeds and may confuse their knowledge of automobiles and motorcycles with them (they are different than cars or motorcycles) because of this, mailing in the form is suggested
-You do not need a Bill of Sale, just the signature of the seller on the DMV form listed above
-You do not need to purchase the moped from the original seller/registered owner nor do you need their information
-Mopeds do not have a Title or "Pink Slip" but simply an "Identification Card"
-The ID card is a piece of paper with your info on it as the "registered owner"
-There is a fee of 19 dollars when a new plate or ID card must be made
-It takes 2-4 weeks to get a new plate or id card